top of page

How to Deal with Nosy People

How many times have you come across people who ask questions that make you think, “Why can’t they just mind their own business?”

When are you getting married?

What’s your plan for the kids?

Are you going to be in the upcoming project?

Do you think that you will get promotion this time? You will find nosy people everywhere. They can be your neighbor, colleague, relative, acquaintance, snooping in your life and prying, exhibiting furious curiosity in knowing what is going on in your life, and forgetting that they also have one of their own. These people tend to have their nose out everywhere other than where it belongs.

Nosy neighbour
“I was just out of surgery and not really fit to be left unaccompanied for more than an hour or two without adult supervision. After about two weeks, one of the Neighbours collared my husband on the way home to tell him that I was having men over to the house in his absence. He thanked her kindly for the information and informed her that he was well aware that my dad and my brother were visiting me on a daily basis.” Story via Giphy.

Having to deal with them annoys you. The problem is that you don't want to seem rude, but answering their questions ticks you off.

Why do people ask irritating questions?

They have low self-esteem:

Insecure people constantly look around in order to ensure that no one should surpass them in winning more money, achieving a better career, living a more successful life, and raising wonderful children. They constantly look around to make sure that they won't be overtaken.

As a result of low self-esteem, they tend to be negative, and enjoy pressing people's pain points.

Oh, is your ex-husband dating a younger woman? How is your divorce trial going? Are you not planning for second child? What happened to your promotion? I heard someone else got it.

As a means of escaping their own shortcomings and failures, they look for pain in others and talk about it. Making others uncomfortable by invading their privacy. They are competitive:

Have you come across a co-worker who watches your every move? Who keeps a tab on each of your activities, wants to know what you discussed in the meeting, what conversation you had with your boss?

Some people seek constant information for comparison purposes, comparing your life with theirs. Information gathering helps them to know where they stand and how to win the social game. They have a nagging fear of being left behind. Is there something I’m missing out on? Are they moving ahead of me? The constant competitive approach pushes them to be on top of snatching every piece of information they can get hold of. So, they won’t miss out on any opportunity by not knowing. Knowing others are doing better crushes their soul.

They are curious:

There are people who are just downright curious. You keep an empty box in front of them, and their minds focus on what is inside. They want to know everything that happens around them. They come up with stories in their head to justify their thinking. Until they find out, they can’t sit in peace.

They seek material for gossip and small talk:

Then there are those who cannot talk about sensible things. They babble too much, so they resort to gossip and intrusion. When they have nothing better to do, they ask you for annoying personal information, which then becomes fodder for their gossip sessions. Additionally, they share your information with others to keep them entertained.

Now we know why some people act nosy. But the thing is how to deal with nosy people. How to respond to nosy questions:

Poking nose in my business meme

A co-worker wants to know about your personal life:

In case your nosy co-worker looks forward to spilling the beans because they are bored with their monotonous work, and you don't feel like providing them with fodder, give them one or two tasks to avoid them rummaging through your personal life.

Ugh, I’m buried. Is there anything you need? Hey, can you help me with this task? I have a long list of work. Would you rather help me with this?

Every time you do, they get the hint that you won’t entertain gossips and personal talks.

Move the needles towards them:

The best way to avoid answering questions that you don't want to answer is to give a non-committal answer and switch the question to them. They would most likely come up with a lengthy personal story and you get a scape.

Co-worker: Are you guys trying for a baby? Response: Haven't thought about it. You tell me how' your life is going on.

Omit the juicy, newsworthy details, and pass on a bland statement:

If you have to answer their question, try removing any part that would give them spicy news. Make your answer bland and boring and deliver it in a monotone without stopping for breath. Don’t pause until you finish, or they will get reason to press you on for more details.

Why did you break up with your fiancé?

Instead of giving them newsworthy detail that your fiancé cheated on you. Simply pass on dull, boring information, We both wanted different things from life, so we decided to part ways and stay good friends.

Ask them back, “Why did you ask?”:

If they ask you question you don't want to answer question them back, “Why do you ask this question?” This surprises and disarms them, leaving them hunt for a sensible answer.

You can say something like: Where did you hear that from? Or simply Why'd you ask?

Use broken record technique:

Broken record technique is a verbal response that is firm, clear and conveys a message that you mean what you say. Using this technique reflects your assertiveness. Next time, when someone asks for your details, you don’t want to reveal them. Repeat your answer without being aggressive, and keeping the pitch and tone fixed, while reinforcing your message, until the person gets the message.

Thank you for asking. I’d prefer not to go into it and would be grateful if you’d respect that.

Snoopy co-worker: What was your doctor’s appointment for?

Response: Nothing special. Thanks for asking.

Don’t take it personally:

Some people are nosy by nature; they may not intentionally do it. Their intruding act might be a part of their behavior. They may not be singling you out. Unless there is a reason, brush it off without taking it to your heart.

Snooping neighbour

Use humor if you share a rapport:

If someone close to you asks you something you don’t want to answer brush it off with humor. A close one may not realize that an “innocent” question is too personal to you.

A snooping friend: What were you two nattering about? You: Can you keep a secret?

Freind: Of course!

You: I'll keep that secret!

Stop before it turns nasty:

Nosiness is annoying. However, if someone uses invasive, inappropriate questions in order to make you feel uncomfortable, insecure, or threatened, they are bullies. When someone makes you feel exposed, anxious, or uneasy, you need to stop it before it gets nasty. Let them know that boundaries should be respected. Tell them what is, off limits and how they shouldn't cross that line. Clearly state your discomfort. Otherwise, you will get angry and resentful

Getting rid of snoopy people won't be feasible. But you should know how to deal with them. Especially when they tend to cross boundary or turn into bullies. Deter them using the above strategies when answering those annoying questions and ignore them sometime.

Have you come across people who ask annoying questions? Leave a comment and tell how you deal with them.

Thanks for taking the time to read. If you enjoyed what you’ve read, please share.

Like this column? Sign up to subscribe to email alerts and you'll never miss a post.

38 views0 comments

Related Posts

See All


Founder and Editor

bottom of page